Should Christians keep the Sabbath? That’s kind of like asking if Christians should honor their parents, or not commit adultery, or love God and their neighbor. It is a direct command from God. It’s what the Bible says to do.
But how do we “remember” (Exodus 20:8) or “observe” (Deuteronomy 5:12) to “keep it holy?” (both passages). The short answer is: DON’T WORK.
Of the fourteen times the Sabbath is described in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, eight of them say not to do any work. Of the remaining six, three have no instructions at all, two are instructions for priests, and one describes a man being punished (put to death) for gathering wood – in other words, he was working.
What exactly is “not working?” The Rabbis have gone to great lengths to determine what is or is not permitted on the Sabbath. I actually have three-volume set of books called Semirath Shabbat: A Practical Guide to Observance of the Sabbath. It isn’t very practical. In fact, it would be a lot of work to keep track of what this says is and isn’t work. God isn’t that complicated, and he gave you common sense. You know if you are working or not.
Based on Numbers 15, I wouldn’t suggest picking up sticks in your yard. Yard work, like a lot of other things, can be done on another day. So if you can do it another day, honor God and don’t do it on the Sabbath. Rest instead.
Exodus 16 seems to suggest you shouldn’t cook. Granted, preparing food, which probably included building a fire, was a lot more work back then than it is today. You might want to consider preparing your Sabbath meals the day before. Do as much as you can ahead of time.
Finally, Leviticus 23 in most Bible translations calls the Sabbath a “holy convocation,” “sacred assembly.” or something similar. The Hebrew phrase is miqra kodesh, and the word miqra is derived from the verb qara meaning to call. In this passage, the Sabbath is to be a time when we are called together as an assembly of saints. Perhaps you have others you can gather with on the Sabbath. But chances are, your church meets on Sunday. Do the best you can.
So if your church meets on Sunday, then go on Sunday. Remember, it isn’t wrong to go to church on Sunday, or Tuesday, or whatever day they meet. It is wrong to not keep the Sabbath. You can keep the Sabbath and still go to church on Sunday.
If your church has other activities on Saturday, you will have to decide how to handle that. Make that decision ahead of time and stick to it. You probably shouldn’t participate in a car wash fundraiser or paint-up fix-up day, or in a bazaar or rummage sale. If you are consistent, your pastor and fellow congregants are more likely to understand and respect your position. Maybe you will even get them to keep Sabbath with you.
In today’s modern world, you can probably find a Sabbath service online, It isn’t the same as physical assembly, so keep going on Sunday as well if you want the fellowship. Above all, consider this day a delight and rest in the love of Messiah Yeshua, Jesus Christ.
If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot
From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
And speaking your own word,
Then you will take delight in the LORD,
And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
(Isaiah 58:13-14 NASB)
Sabbath in the Torah
|Exodus 16||Prepare food ahead of time. Don’t go to the store or a restaurant.|
|Exodus 20||Don’t work or cause others to work.|
|Exodus 31||Don’t profane Sabbath by working.|
|Exodus 35||Don’t work, don’t kindle fire.|
|Leviticus 19||Keep (no instructions).|
|Leviticus 23||Rest, no work. Convene.|
|Leviticus 24||Priests are to set out bread.|
|Leviticus 26||Keep (no instructions).|
|Numbers 15||Man gathering wood condemned.|
|Numbers 28||Sacrifices/Offerings listed.|
|Deuteronomy 5||Don’t work or cause others to work. (Same as Exodus 20)|
|Genesis 2||(No instructions)|
|Exodus 23||Don’t work.|
|Exodus 34||Don’t work.|